30 December 2022

Suffer The Little Kiddies

When our oldest daughter was an infant she was very 'boisterous' at Divine Liturgy one Sunday. after Liturgy, I apologised to Father. He replied not to worry. At least he knew she was there!

From Catholic Stand

By Guy McClung, JD, PhD

In many, many religions other than Catholicism children do not take part in assemblies of the religion’s adherents along with adults. For me, it has sometimes been an eerie feeling to be in a non-catholic denomination’s main assembly room and there are no children present.  I have wondered if the Child Catcher from Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (written for his son, Caspar) had come to life and caught and imprisoned all of them; or maybe the couples there were fruitless, simply ignoring the command to “be fruitful and multiply.”

Of the many sins of mine which will require purging in purgatory before I can enjoy the beatific vision, one will be how often I thought a child’s screaming was better than a sermon (yes, this implies I was not paying strict attention to the sermon). Another grievous moral shortcoming of mine for which I will need purification will be how I have often thought that God in His wisdom has willed that a child, and sometimes a chorus of them, not only interrupt but drown out a priest’s words. Perhaps, as have I, others have wondered at the divine timing – e.g. reverent silence right through to the end of the readings and then Bam! – A high-decibel, well-orchestrated, five-part disharmonious cacophony of those who clearly were still a very long way from reaching the age of reason.

I will never be able to get this image out of my mind: a screaming, struggling child spitting out the cheerios with which a loving mother is trying to fill the child’s mouth. To do this successfully takes real parenting skills and the selfless, unconditional love which only a mother can give a child.

Having said all that, the Parent Supporter & Appreciation of the Year Award should go to the pastor in a parish south of Houston, Texas who wrote the following for the parish bulletin.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We are very blessed at this parish to have many young families who regularly attend Mass with their children. Sometimes these children can be a little unruly, so I would like to clearly state the parish’s policy on children at Mass. It comes from the Gospel of St. Matthew 19:14:

“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

Everyone is welcome to attend Mass here and we are greatly blessed by the presence of so many young families and their children. Those children are the next generation of Catholics, and the church belongs especially to them.

It is true that the parish has a cry room where children can be taken when they are unruly, and a narthex with glass doors that do a good job dampening the noise, but a parent should never be made to feel unwelcome because they did not bring their child out or they didn’t bring them out “soon enough”.

I received an email last week from a young dad who had come to the parish with his wife and child for the first time. After the Mass, a man approached him and told him that he should have taken his child to the cry room. This comment really left a bad impression of our parish, especially when the dad had taken his child to the back when he started making noise. Parents with young children, even those new to the parish, are well aware of their children and the noise that they can make and where the cry room is located, it does not need to be pointed out to them unless they ask.

The Catechism says that,

“parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith” and that they “should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church” (CCC 2225, emphasis added).

It continues stating

“Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years…. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents” (CCC 2226).

If you think a child is being too loud and the parent isn’t doing anything, then you can empathize with the translators of the Douay-Rheims Bible who render the same passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew as

“Suffer the little children and forbid them not to come to me.”

Raising children and educating them in the faith is hard work, we owe parents our thanks and our support in this difficult task.

May God bless you,

Fr. David Angelino

Pastor, St. Theresa’s Parish, Sugar Land, Texas;  Bulletin Oct. 16, 2022

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